Prâslea the Brave and the Golden Apples
A king had a magnificent garden with a tree that bore golden apples, but he never ate them, because every year, the apples were stolen as they became ripe. None of his guards could catch the thief. His oldest two sons tried, one year after the other, but fell asleep near midnight. The next year, the youngest son, Prâslea, tried. He set up two stakes to prick him if he ever started to lean in his sleep. At midnight, he heard rustling and shot an arrow. In the morning, a trail of blood led away, and the apples were ripe.
The king was pleased, but Prâslea wanted to track the thief. He and his brothers followed the blood to a ravine, where the older two brothers tried to have the others lower each one of them, grew frightened, and came back. Prâslea had them lower him. He found a copper castle. There, a lovely maiden told him she was a princess, and that the ogres (Zmeu) that had kidnapped her and her two sisters had wanted to marry them, but the sisters had put them off with demands. He fought with the ogre there and killed him; went on to the second castle, of silver, and killed the second ogre; went on the third castle, of gold, where the ogre thief was, and wrestled with him as well. It was a longer fight, and Prâslea called on a raven to drop some tallow on him, in return for three corpses. This strengthened him, and he fought on. Then both the ogre and Prâslea called on the princess there to give them water; she gave it to Prâslea, and he killed the ogre.
The princesses showed him a magic whip that made golden apples. Each of them took one. Prâslea brought the princesses back and sent them up. The older two told the brothers that they would marry them. Then Prâslea sent up a stone with his cap. His brothers dropped it, to kill him, and married the older sisters.
Prâslea saved some eaglets from a dragon, and their mother, in gratitude, carried him to the other world. There, he found that the youngest princess was being pressed to accept a suitor. She said that she would accept only if she received a golden distaff and spindle that would spin of themselves, because the ogre had given her one. Prâslea went to work for the silversmith who had to do this and brought out the one the ogre had given her, using the golden apple. The princess then demanded a golden hen with golden chick, and when he produced it, insisted that he be brought before her, because he had to have the golden apple. They recognized Prâslea. He and his brothers went outside and shot arrows into the air. The brothers' arrows hit and killed them, but Prâslea's hit the ground. He married the youngest princess.
A similar tale exists in Azerbaijani folklore. In an ancient tale about Malik Mammad, the son of one of the wealthiest kings of Azerbaijan, that king had a big garden. In the center of this garden was a magical apple tree that yielded apples every day. An ugly giant named Div stole all the apples every night. The king sent Malik Mammad and his elder brothers to fight the giant. In the course of this tale, Malik Mammad saves Simurgh's babies from a dragon. In return, Simurgh resolved to help Malik Mammad. When Malik Mammad wanted to pass from The Dark world into the Light world, Simurgh asked him to provide 40 half carcasses of meat and 40 wineskins filled with water. When Simurgh put the water on its left wing and the meat on its right wing, Malik Mammad was able to enter the Light world.
- The Story of Bensurdatu
- The Rider Of Grianaig, And Iain The Soldier's Son
- The Bold Knight, the Apples of Youth, and the Water of Life
- The Blue Mountains
- Ioana Sturdza, Raymond Vianu, Mary Lǎzǎrescu, Fairy Tales and Legends from Romania p 301 Twayne Publishers, New York 1982